vintage finds from Japan
Welcome to Natsukashii, here you will find traditional, vintage handcrafted items from Japan, personally selected with love by me!
My name is Carola Straatman, I am a graphic designer from the Netherlands and I’m a keen enthusiast and admirer of traditional Japan. You can view a selection of photos I made on my trips through Japan on my instagram page @carola_japan. During my visits to Japan, I became fascinated by Japanese traditional crafts, created with perfection by devoted artisans. I would like to share with you my love for colourful, authentic Japan.
Natsukashii.nl sells e.g. vintage Kokeshi (wooden dolls), Haori (Kimono jackets) and various vintage silk accessories. Each item has its own history. Perfectly to add a touch of vintage Japan to your interior or enrich your fashionable outfit with Japanese elegance and style.
More vintage items will be added regularly to the shop. So keep an eye on this website and follow @natsukashii.nl on instagram for news and updates!
KIMONO jacket (Haori)
Haori is a hip- or thigh-length Kimono-jacket that is traditionally worn over a long Kimono. In Japan it is an essential feature of the Kimono outfit. Since the Edo period (1600-1868) women started to wear the Haori as outerwear. Originally the Haori was worn exclusively by the upper classes, in modern-day Japan Haori are worn by both men and women.
Haori is like a short Kimono without the wide overlapping front panels, it features a thinner collar than that of a long Kimono. Two small triangular panels are sewn at either side, which make it comfortable to wear it loosely hanging open or wear it closed with a modern belt or vintage Obijime (silk Obi cord), also available in my shop.
All Kimono jackets (Haori) in my shop are from Japan, all are handmade and most of them are handmade from silk fabric, many with beautiful embroidered designs and woven patterns. Woven metallic silk thread adds a luxurious touch. All Kimono jackets are lined with silk or synthetic fabric, often with beautiful patterns or authentic Japanese sceneries. A colorful surprise when you take off your Kimono jacket or wear it inside out.
Turn your daily outfit into an eye-catching and elegant Japanese look or wear your Haori for a festive night out.
KIMONO jacket (Haori) for men are slightly different from those for women, they’re usually without pattern and mostly black. The lining, on the other hand, is always surprising and reveals a nice design or pattern. Wear it inside-out if you like! The sleeves of a men’s Haori (Kimono jacket) are attached, whereas the women’s Hoari sleeves are partly loose, they can swing around the body gracefully.
I have selected some beautiful vintage silk cords called Obijime and Haori himo, all are handwoven from silk thread. Easy to combine with your Haori or blazer for that extra Japanese touch.
Haori himo are short, braided silk cords which can be attached to the small loops sewn inside the seams of a Haori collar. The Haori himo is a subtle closure, this way the Haori (Kimono jacket) still hangs slightly open.
Obijime is a decorative, braided long silk cord, which traditionally Kimono wearing women tie around their Kimono belt (Obi). For a modern style, wear the Obijime as a belt around your Haori or Kimono, it gives you an even more feminine silhouette.
Furoshiki is a Japanese wrapping cloth or gift cloth, it can be used in various ways. The use of the Furoshiki goes way back in Japan, initially high-ranking visitors to bathhouses packed and carried their belongings in a cloth. “Furo” means “bath”. Today, Furoshiki are used for multiple purposes, for carrying and packaging all kinds of products. Gifts and luxury foods are packed very carefully in Japan, sometimes the packaging is more important than the gift itself.
Tying the Furoshiki is an art in itself, it offers many possibilities, bags can be knotted, or used for gift wrapping. I personally also like to wear them as a hair scarf. You can even hang them on the wall as a piece of art. One of my favorite kimono dressers Billy Matsunaga shares 4 simple ways to wrap Furoshiki in this video.
Most importantly, the Furoshiki is an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic disposable packaging and bags! In 2006, Japanese Minister of the Environment Yuriko Koike promoted Furoshiki in an effort to increase environmental awareness and reduce the use of plastic. They released this handy infographic on the many ways Furoshiki can be used.
I have found some beautiful vintage Furoshiki, most are made of 100% silk or a combination of silk and synthetic fabrics. All are approximately 68×68 cm in size and have a soft, yet sturdy structure, making them pleasant for various knotting methods and applications.
Take a look at my Natsukashii shop and choose your favorite vintage Furoshiki, everything you will wrap with it will look beautiful!
Kimekomi dolls date back to around 1740, when Tadashige Takahashi, a Shinto priest of Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto, used willow scraps from woven boxes to make dolls and lined them with fabric scraps from priests’ robes. Because the dolls originated from the Kyoto Kamo area, they were called Kamo dolls at the time. Later they became known as Kimekomi dolls, the term ‘Kimekomi‘ literally meaning “to put in a groove”. Today, Kimekomi dolls are still made by hand using ancient methods; they have been designated as a traditional craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The body of the Kimekomi doll is made of ‘toso‘, a paulownia wood sawdust mixed with wheat starch paste, which is covered with various silk woven fabrics. The head is made of bisque clay covered with a top layer of ‘gofun‘ (white seashell pigment). Kimekomi dolls come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, such as girl’s festival or boy’s festival dolls, and Ukiyo dolls (dolls that reflect Edo culture). The toso material of the dolls makes them light in weight and durable in terms of loss of shape.
More info about the process of the Kimekomi craft technique
- A clay figure is made based on the doll’s design.
- The clay figure is placed in a wooden frame to make a mold of the doll.
- The mold is filled with toso, a modeling material made from paulownia wood sawdust mixed with wheat starch paste. The core of the torso is filled with paper for reinforcement and to prevent loss of shape.
- Gofun, a white pigment made from seashells is applied to the hull; to strengthen the base material, facilitate groove cutting and improve the color contrast of the fabric.
- After the gofun has dried, the grooves for the fabric are carefully cut with a chisel to a uniform width and depth.
- Paper patterns are made for each piece of silk fabric and the selected fabrics are cut to size. Glutinous rice glue is spread into the grooves and the fabric pieces are inserted with a piercing punch.
- Toso, plaster or biscuit clay is used for the head. After complete drying, the head is filed smooth and a base layer of gofun is applied. Special gofun is applied to shape the nose and mouth and allowed to dry.
- The eyes, lips and other facial features are painted with fine-tipped brushes. Painting the face would be the most important work in making the dolls, adding character to the doll.
- Glue is applied to the head and the silk hair strands are fixed in cut grooves with a piercing punch.
- The head, decorations and accessories are attached to the torso, taking into account the best angles for display.
Kokeshi are hand painted, carved wooden dolls created by local Japanese artisans. Kokeshi dolls are divided into two main categories:
Traditional kokeshi (dentō-kokeshi), the first dolls date back from the late Edo period (1600-1868). These dolls were sold to visitors at hot springs in the northern Tohoku region of Japan, to keep craftsmens’ hands busy during the winter months. At first they were bought as toys for kids but over the years they have become increasingly popular worldwide as one of Japan’s most admired folk arts. The shapes and patterns of traditional Kokeshi dolls are divided into 11 types, based on the region in the north. Some of these types are displayed in the image above.
Creative kokeshi (sōsaku-kokeshi), the first designs were made after 1945, by artisans who allowed themselves more creative freedom in terms of shape, design, color and technique. Many artisans became famous for their handworking skills and creativity. Some of their awardwinning designs have become collectors items.
All Kokeshi dolls in my shop are vintage and most of them date back between 1950 to 1990. No Kokeshi is the same, they are all unique and handcrafted in Japan. Kokeshi dolls are made of Japanese wood, such as Mizuki – dogwood, Sakura – cherrywood or Keyaki – zelkova (well-know for its beautiful grain). Kokeshi dolls are painted with water-based pigments or ink. Some Kokeshi are finished with wax, but most are untreated. Please read how to take care of your Kokeshi doll on the FAQ page.
What does "Natsukashii" mean?
NATSUKASHII – 懐かしい is Japanese for:
“A sudden euphoric sense of nostalgia when small things or experiences bring back loving memories.”
Natsukashii is a Japanese expression used when something evokes a fond memory from your past. A memory which instantly creates a smile across your face. For example, when you hear a song you used to love as a teenager, or when you come across an old note or concertticket hidden in your pocket.
Natsukashii – which derives from the verb natsuku, which means “to keep close or become fond of” – indicates joy and gratitude for the past rather than a desire to return to it. In Japan, Natsukashii is a reminder that you are fortunate to have the experiences you’ve had in life.
All items in my shop are vintage and have a cherished memory. I hope that when you wear a Natsukashii item or have one at your home, you will cherish it and create new memories with it.
Meet up with Natsukashii
Natsukashii is an online shop, I don’t have a physical store. Though I would like to meet you and give you the opportunity to see, buy or try on the various Natsukashii items.
A few times a year I participate in Japan related markets within the Netherlands. Keep an eye on my instagram account or this website for updates on the next market where we can meet.